Split Screen on Mac: The Simplest Way to Multitask

Don't waste your time tabbing back and forth. Use this handy feature to keep two windows open side-by-side.

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4 min read
Split View menu on a Mac

Learning how to use split screen mode on your Mac can help you multitask.

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Sometimes you need more than one window, especially if you work from home on a laptop like I do. But toggling between multiple full-screen windows isn't very efficient. Instead, it's easier to split your screen so you can keep two windows open simultaneously. Split-screen mode is great for when you need to look at data for a report, keep chat windows open while doing something else, or just have a video play on one side of your screen while you multitask.

Fortunately, Macs offer a split screen mode, which allows you to stick two apps (or two separate browser windows) on different sides of your display. That way, you can glance between windows without having to navigate with your mouse or pressing Command + Tab. 

How to enter Split View on a Mac

1. Make sure neither window you want to use is in full-screen mode.

2. In one of the windows you want to use, place your cursor over the green button in the top left. Instead of clicking to maximize the window, hover until you see a drop-down menu.

3. Select Tile Window to Left of Screen or Tile Window to Right of Screen. Your Mac will automatically enter split-screen mode.

4. From there, other open windows will be displayed on the opposite side of the screen. Click the window you want on the rest of your screen, and it will fill the remaining half.

5. If you want to adjust the size of the windows, use the slider in the center of the screen.

In Split View, you'll be able to look at both windows simultaneously. Multitask away!

Read more: This Is One Thing Every Mac Owner Should Know How to Do

How to exit split screen on Macs

If you're done using the split screen layout, here's how to get out of it:

1. Move your cursor to the top of the screen until you see the sizing buttons at the top left of each window. 

2. Click the red button to close that window or the green button to exit split screen.

3. Don't panic! Your other window is still open -- it's just hidden in full-screen mode. To access it again, press the Mission Control button (F3) on the top row of your keyboard.

4. You should see two options at the top of the screen: Desktop and whatever window you had in split-screen mode. Click the other window, and use the green sizing button in the top left if you want to exit full-screen mode.

If you're the kind of person (like me) who might need more than two windows open, you can always manually resize windows to fit three or four on your screen at once. The experience just won't be as visually clean as using tiled windows. 

What is the keyboard shortcut for split screen on Mac?

There are plenty of handy Mac keyboard shortcuts, including one for split screen. Start by using control + command + F to enter full-screen mode. From there you can hit F3 to pull up Mission Control and drag another app onto the app you currently have in full screen. Click back into the newly tiled apps and you'll be in Split View. 

If that's still too many steps, you can create your own keyboard shortcut. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts. You can click the + button to add a command named "Tile Window to Left of Screen" using your desired shortcut. Once you've activated the shortcut, your active window will tile to the left side of the screen and you can simply select a second window to be added to your split screen.

Read More: The Keyboard Shortcut You'll Use More Than Ctrl + Z

Why won't my Mac do split screen?

First, make sure you're not currently in fullscreen mode. Split screen only works from the normal windowed view. If that's not the issue, go to System Preferences > Mission Control and check to see whether Displays have separate Spaces is enabled. If not, enable it.

If you don't see that option in the Mission Control menu, make sure you've updated to MacOS 10.11 or later. You can check your current OS version by clicking the Apple icon in the top left menu and then selecting About this Mac. If you're using an earlier version, you'll have to update by clicking the Software Update button on that screen.

Keep in mind that not all apps support split screen. If you've tried everything else and the app still won't tile in split screen mode, the app probably doesn't offer split screen mode. 

How do you split screens on a Mac without full screen?

The official split screen function on Macs (called "Split View") automatically splits two windows in full screen. If you don't want the full-screen view (perhaps because you want to be able to quickly navigate between browser tabs), you can manually drag your windows to fit the desired space. This option gives you a little more customization than Split View. 

For more, check out how to download the MacOS Monterey public beta, and 10 MacOS tricks every Mac power user needs to know.

Watch this: Hands-on with MacOS Monterey